People in Bangladesh usually eat with their right hands at home. Until recently, however, it was almost widely common to see Bangladeshi people using spoons and forks to eat at restaurants. But this is no more a common scenario in Dhaka which has a population of approximately 16 million people.
Things are changing, slowly but surely. Alongside knives, forks and spoons, Chinese chopsticks or ‘kuaizi’ in Chinese have taken a regular position on tables at Bangladeshi restaurants, especially in Dhaka’s upscale restaurants of Banani, Gulshan and Uttara. For many in Bangladesh, chopsticks, the key eating utensils of choice in many other parts of Asia and elsewhere in the world, are definitely far more than just two pieces of sticks.
Chopsticks play an important role in Chinese food culture. Chinese chopsticks are usually 9 to 10 inches long and rectangular with a blunt end. They are round on the eating end which symbolizes heaven, and the other end is square which symbolizes earth. This is because maintaining an adequate food supply is the greatest concern between heaven and earth.
A growing number of Bangladeshis are cherishing this Chinese bonds through the use of chopsticks symbolizing the age-old Chinese civilization and epitomizing the over 5,000 years of China’s history.
According to Alia a former overseas student, “When I visited Yum Cha I was elated to see chopsticks being provided alongside forks and spoon. I had the opportunity to use chopsticks back in London but didn’t know if they would provide it here. Using a chopstick is both fun and hygienic at the same time.”
Paromita a student of Dhaka University stated, “We were accustomed to see chopsticks in Hollywood and Chinese movies, but the only chopsticks you had in the market were for tying up your hair. But now many of the Asian restaurants are providing them alongside the basic tableware.”
In modern times chopsticks are so frequently used in daily life they have become more than tableware and have fostered a set of separate etiquette and customs of their own. A pair of chopsticks carries the emotions and memories of not only the individuals using them, but their own selves as well.